If Christmas is an invasion (see last week’s devotional), then how are we to understand passages where OT prophets prophecy the Messiah is promised as one who will bring peace, where Jesus himself talks about giving peace, and we read numerous references throughout the NT where peace is referred to as a present reality? I believe it begins with a proper understanding of the term “peace”.
I think there are at least two types of peace, and I’ll refer to them as intrapersonal peace and interpersonal peace. Intrapersonal, or internal, peace is that peace we have within ourselves, whereas interpersonal, or external, peace is the peace we have with others. When Christ told his disciples, “Peace I leave with you” (John 14:27) and Paul spoke of the “peace that passes understanding”, (Phil 4:7) I believe he was partly talking about this peace on the inside that we sense as Christians – the peace we talk about and hear about when someone is going through a difficult time in life but they say, “And in all of this I have this peace that everything is going to be all right.” It’s something that’s inside them and has nothing to do with peace between peoples (or nations).
The second type of peace, interpersonal, is the peace I believe Martin Luther King, Jr. was referring to when he said, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice.” (incidentally, this quote was used in the 1997 movie Air Force One in reference to peace between a country and a terrorist organization). This type of peace is not yet present in our world, and it won’t be present until evil is vanquished, Satan is completely overthrown, and sin (and its consequences) are gone.
And it is the conquest for that peace in which we find ourselves today, a time of war between the spiritual and unseen powers that surround us. We are the middle of a war, a war that is striving to restore justice, and until justice is restored by the Prince of Peace we will always have this tension in our lives: while Christ has given us peace, we still must fight for ultimate peace until he returns and restores it.
There is one more type of peace that I haven’t mentioned yet, and this is the peace that Christ provides us today for those who believe, and that is peace with God. When we sinned we joined Satan’s side in the war he waged against God. The great mystery of the Christian faith, however, is that when we become Christians we switch sides: because of Jesus we can have peace with God and we now fight on his team against our former commander – and make no mistake about it, God’s team is the winning team.
Until we understand and view life through this lens (understanding) of peace, war, and justice, we will never fully understand all that is happening around and to us. We have an enemy, and enemy who seeks to devour and destroy us. Which means we are at war. Christmas was the Great Invasion, the day God turned the tide and allowed us to be on his team in this war. The angels proclaimed, “Peace on Earth” at the annunciation of his birth, but the peace they proclaimed was only “to those with whom God is pleased.” (Luke 2:14). There will come a day when peace is offered to all – when justice will rule and evil will be vanquished for eternity. Until then, we are warring “against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12).
The invasion has begun. Which side are you on?